“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lexington in Lafayette County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

The Steamboat Saluda Disaster

April 9, 1852

The Steamboat Saluda Disaster Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, October 29, 2015
1. The Steamboat Saluda Disaster Marker
Inscription.  In early April 1852 the aging side-wheeler steamboat Saluda churned up the Missouri River from St. Louis, bound for Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Iowa. Unable to push past the Lexington Bend due to ice floes and strong currents, it docked at Lexington's Upper Landing. Among 175 passengers still on board were people heading for various up-river towns, men bound for California gold fields, and about 75 Mormon emigrants mostly Europeans, hoping to join wagon trains going to Utah Territory. On Good Friday morning, April 9, Captain Francis Belt vowed to "round the bend or blow this boat to hell." At about 7:30 a.m., the Saluda eased from the landing. Before the paddle-wheels made three revolutions, the red hot boilers exploded. The sound was heard two miles away, passengers, crew, baggage, timbers, chimneys, and boiler scraps were blown ashore or into the river. The Saluda's bell landed high up the river bank, as did a 600 pound safe with a yellow spotted dog (killed) leashed to it. Two-thirds of the boat, everything above the lower deck and extending back to the wheelhouse, was blown away. Currents moved the Saluda's
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remains back against the levee, its stern section underneath several feet of water. Estimates of the dead and missing vary from 26 to 135. Best eye-witness accounts saw about 75 were killed or lost and presumed dead, and three dozen injured. Captain Belt was killed. Only three officers survived. Lexington's shocked citizens rallied heroically to rescue victims, nurse the wounded, raise funds for those who lost everything, and find homes for orphans. Twenty-one victims were buried in Lexington that terrible Friday. Most survivors quickly found other transportation and continued their journeys. The Saluda disaster ranks as one of the worst steamboat tragedies, perhaps the worst, on the Missouri River. It caused the U.S. Congress that year to enact new operation rules and stricter inspection standards for steamboats.

Those who lost their lives in the Saluda disaster

Lois Locke Bailey* • Mary Ann Bailey* • Capt. Francis T. Belt • Jonathan Blackburn • J. Brick • William J. Bridges • Jonathan Brock • Duncan Campbell* • Jane Campbell* • Neile Campbell* • James Campbell* • Josiah Clancey • Helen Dunbar* • Euphemia Dunbar* • Franklin Lorenzo Dunbar* • John Evans • Firemen on the Saluda (5) • Mr. Foleylinber • Lewis Guerette • Emma Henry* • Mr. Kramer • Mrs. Kramer • Charles S. LaBarge • Mr. Laynell • Mr. Legatt • N. McCallister

Heritage Park - Saluda Memorial image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, October 29, 2015
2. Heritage Park - Saluda Memorial
• William Mitchell* • Preston Mitchell* • Josephine Mitchell* • Mr. Nash • R. Nash • William Roberts • Selina Roberts • Sons of Roberts (4) • William Rowland, Sr.* • William Rowland, Jr.* • David Rowland* • Rachel Rowland* • Sarah Rowland* • John Sargent* • Joseph Sargent* • E. Shaffer • Lewis Tebo • S. Wag.. • Wayley • Sister Whitaker* • Mary Gleadhail Whitehead* • George Whitehead* • Catherine Whitehead* • George Whitehead (Son) • Isabel Whitehead*

* Denotes Latter-day Saints
Erected 2002 by The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is April 9, 1852.
Location. 39° 11.077′ N, 93° 52.799′ W. Marker is in Lexington, Missouri, in Lafayette County. Marker is on 13th Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Lexington MO 64067, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. William Morrison (here, next to this marker); Christ Church (within shouting distance of this marker); The Library Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Mount Vernon Foundation Stones (within shouting distance of this marker); Lexington

Bell Tower Plaque image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, October 29, 2015
3. Bell Tower Plaque
(about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lafayette County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lexington's First Public School Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wentworth World War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lexington.
More about this marker. Marker is located in Heritage Park
Additional keywords. The Steamboat Saluda Disaster
Bell Tower image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, October 29, 2015
4. Bell Tower
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 10, 2015, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 864 times since then and 144 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 10, 2015, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 23, 2024